Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Video: Red Army Tactics, Tank Brigades (1942)

The Red Army is often stereotyped as throwing tanks at the enemy haphazardly, hoping to overwhelm the enemy. This is far from the truth. As early as 1942 tactics changed drastically to reflect the shortcomings experienced in the summer of 1941. I explain how in my latest video: 

Monday, 3 August 2020

T-60 Guide

"March 16th, 1942

Directions on using T-60 small tanks
  1. The main combat ability of the T-60 is its speed and mobility on the battlefield. The density of its autocannon and machine gun fire, the small dimensions of its tank, and sufficient thickness of armour make it a first class tank.
    Its speed, maneuverability, and small dimensions are the best protection against enemy machine gun and artillery fire.
  2. Design flaws of the T-60 include low clearance and high ground pressure due to its narrow track. On difficult terrain (swamp, snow) the tracks cut into the mud and the tank bottoms out.
    It is also necessary to always remember the tank's relatively poor ability to negotiate certain artificial and natural obstacles: deep snow, rivers, swamps, trenches, walls, etc.
    In those cases, refer to the following data:
    1. Maximum snow depth: 35 cm (the tank's speed is halved)
    2. Fording depth: up to 50 cm
    3. Trench: up to 100 cm
    4. Vertical wall: up to 35 cm
    5. Slopes:
      1. Summer: 40%
      2. Winter: 20%
    6. Tilts: up to 15%
    7. Swamp: only with a solid ground and a silt contents, up to 20 cm deep
  3. The commander who organizes the T-60 tanks for battle must consider these positive and negative qualities.
    Without their consideration, any method or use of these tanks will be doomed to failure and excess losses. The personnel will develop mistrust of their own vehicles and that will reduce the quality of the crews.
  4. It is necessary to take all measures to train T-60 crews and inspire them to use the tanks' best qualities in battle: speed, maneuverability, fire. When attacking, plan the course in a zig-zag instead of a straight line.
  5. When choosing how to attack with T-60 tanks, in addition to studying the enemy's anti-tank defenses, do the following.
    1. Carefully study the terrain in the attack sector (using a map, reconnaissance, or observation from a forward observation point), determine the tanks' ability to move through it at full speed and their ability to cross obstacles in the way. Choose the direction where the highest speed can be developed.
    2. Determine the formation of the tanks not just based on the location and type of attack, but the convenience of maneuver, fire, and speed of the tanks. The best formation is the one that allows you to move the whole formation towards the target without stopping or pausing without reforming and maintaining fire with as much of the tank's firepower as possible.
  6. It is permitted to fire both from short stops, using terrain features to hide, as well as on the move. Do not permit crews to waste AP-I ammunition on targets that are not meant for this type of ammunition. At the same time, teach the crews the effectiveness of the shell against armour.
  7. It is necessary to instill the knowledge that the T-60 cannot be left under enemy artillery or mortar fire into cres and commanders. Even medium type splinters 5-10 meters away can harm the tank.
  8. In case of a failed attack, the T-60 must immediately be moved back to initial positions or to cover from artillery and mortar fire.
  9. Ramming cannons and vehicles of any type is categorically forbidden.
  10. In case T-60 tanks have to be used on difficult terrain or terrain with ample artificial hazards, reserve one or two light or medium tanks with a special task to extract stuck T-60s and aid them over obstacles.
  11. During an offensive, use the T-60 only in the second and third echelon. The first echelon must consist of medium or heavy tanks.
    If the enemy's defenses are deep, keep tanks from the second echelon 300-400 meters away from the first during the approach of the first line of defense in order to build up strength in depth.
    In this case, the medium and heavy tanks that destroyed the anti-tank defenses on the first line will allow the second echelon tanks (the T-60) to deal with enemy personnel and themselves will move up to destroy anti-tank defenses in the second line.
    If the enemy is defending with open flank or flanks, order the T-60 tanks to attack near the flank with the goal of flanking the enemy or coming in from the rear.
    The use of T-60 tanks to assault fortified regions is only permissible after the first line of defense is broken.
    When pursuing the retreating enemy, boldly move T-60 tanks forward, use their speed reserve, fire from standstill when necessary. Heavy and medium tanks can be used in the second echelon if they do not have a separate task. 
    The commander that organizes the T-60's attack must take into account the possibility of a prepared defensive line. In that case, the T-60 tanks must stop at a prearranged point, after which the medium or heavy tanks once again enter the first echelon.
  12. In encounters, use the T-60 tank in the same way as during pursuit. Boldly move them out to the first echelon, or in a flanking maneuver, supporting them with fire of medium and heavy tanks attacking in the second echelon or from the front.
  13. On the defense, use T-60 tanks as a reserve for counterattacks against enemy personnel and machine guns. Destroy enemy tanks with fire from standstill or from ambushes.
    The use of T-60 tanks to counterattack beyond the first line of defense against an enemy prepared to attack can only be done with support from heavy and medium tanks.
  14. Pay special attention to cooperation with infantry and cavalry when pursuing the enemy.
Special technical features of the T-60:
  1. Pay close attention to the temperature of the engine. Do not permit even slight overheating. Starting up the engine without coolant in the system even for a short time is forbidden.
  2. When it is warm, the use of the oil radiator is mandatory. Disable the oil radiator in cold weather.
  3. Regularly tighten the engine block bolts.
  4. When switching gears, double-clutch when switching up, add gas when switching down.
  5. After the tank passed through obstacles where the suspension suffered shocks, it is necessary to inspect the condition of the drive wheel, idler, and tracks.
Acting Chief of the Operational Department of the Armoured and Motorized Vehicle Directorate of the Southern Front, Major Beloozerov"

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Late Replacement

There are many cases in tank building where a very good vehicle appears too late to enter mass production. This was most common at the end of WWII, when a number of development programs were cut due to the end of hostilities. The Object 704 or Kirovets-2 was one such unfortunate project. This was a significant step forward compared to the ISU-152, but the end of the war and revised requirements for heavy SPGs left it no chance of entering production.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Thickness Problems

"Opinion of a member of the model commission and representative of the Ilyich factory

The following needs to be considered when discussing and making a decision regarding the production of the A-43 tank with thicker armour (50-60 mm):
  1. This thickness will require the use of 7-8 ton ingots to produce the sides of the tank, which the Ilyich factory doesn't have equipment to work with and development of which needs to begin right away.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Sherman Tracks

"Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army Staff
July 25th, 1945

To the Chief of the GBTU Tank Directorate
To the Chief of the Formation and Equipment Directorate of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces

To carry out plan #00793752 issued by the Military Council of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces regarding the equipment of the 3rd Guards Mechanized Corps with Sherman tanks, I ask you to send 35 spare sets of tracks to the reserve of the corps commander.

In addition, the Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces asked to send 45 sets of tracks to the reserve of the 9th Guards Mechanized Corps and the 201st Tank Brigade.

Send the tracks with tanks that will be send from the 16th Training Tank Regiment in Gorkiy in trains ## 16338, 16339, 16340, 16341, 16342.

Chief of Staff of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces, Guards Major General of the Tank Forces, Markov
Chief of the Organizational Department of the Staff, Engineer-Colonel Martynov"

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

David vs Goliath

"Results of trials of the 45 mm gun and anti-tank rifles and the effectiveness of anti-tank grenades on the Tiger tank

On November 13th and 14th, 1944, trials of 45 mm armour piercing shells and subcaliber shot, anti-tank rifles, and anti-tank grenades against the tracks of a Tiger tank were held.

The following were provided by the 285th Rifle Division:
  1. 45 mm gun and crew: 1
  2. Anti-tank rifles and crews: 2
  3. Subcaliber shot for the 45 mm gun: 20
  4. Armour piercing shells for the 45 mm gun: 30
  5. Anti-tank rifle cartridge: 40
  6. Anti-tank grenade: 15
  7. Hand grenade: 15
The 45 mm gun and anti-tank rifles were fired at a range of 30-300 m at angles of 90 and 45 degrees.

Warspot Article: Firefly Development

The British developed a first class anti-tank gun during WWII, but had no luck with a platform to put it on. The solution came from abroad. Although it took a lot of effort, Sherman tanks proved capable of mounting this powerful gun. Read about the trials of the Sherman Ic and Vc tanks in my latest article on Warspot.net.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Heavy Tank Destroyer

The ISU-152 is the best known Soviet heavy SPG. This was the most numerous heavy SPG in history and its career lasted for many decades, overshadowing its "little sister", the ISU-122. The vehicles had the same chassis and differed only in the gun (or rather just the barrel) and ammunition racks. It was the ISU-122 and not the ISU-152 that was the main product of the Chelyabinsk Kirov Factory. This was because the vehicles with 122 mm guns were meant to be heavy tank destroyers. Tank regiments that fought in IS-2 tanks were even reformed as artillery regiments with ISU-122 tank destroyers.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Field Artillery Penetration

Artillery HQ of the 22nd Army
September 7th, 1941

To chiefs of artillery of infantry divisions
To the commander of the 56th Corps Artillery Regiment
Personal copy for:_________

On orders of the Chief of Artillery of the 22nd Army I send you information regarding penetration of 76 mm and 107 mm HE and 122 mm and 203 mm concrete piercing shells.

The data was obtained at the ANIOP firing at plates angled at 30 degrees from normal.

When firing at plates at normal the penetration is 15-20% higher.

Have all commanders of artillery regiments familiarize themselves with this data.

Attachment: table of penetration on one page.

Chief of Staff of Artillery of the 22nd Army, Colonel Chudin
Chief of the 2nd Department, Captain Matyunenko"

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Thermite Shells

"Report on new armour piercing shells used by the German army
  1. The use of so called "thermite" armour piercing shells by the German army has not yet been confirmed.
    German press made a mention of an alleged patent for an incendiary thermite shell, but such a shell should be made with an Elektron alloy hull, which is completely unsuitable for armour penetrating shells. The objective of this message was disinformation.
  2. The presence of subcaliber armour piercing shot (similar to those made by the French Komissan factory) was discovered during combat.
    The shot consists of a body, a tungsten core, and a ballistic cap. The cap can be made from either plastic or from a light metal.
    Captured documents show that when an armour piercing shot with a cap made from a light metal (Elektron) hits a target, a flash of light can be seen.
    This message was not checked or verified.
Assistant Chief of the 1st Department, 2nd Directorate, Military Engineer 3rd Class, Krutik
_ April 1942